NEA Convention 2010: NEA Votes “No Confidence” in Race to the Top

Much of the morning was spent in debate of New Business Item 2. It reads:

While the National Education Association Representative Assembly supports and appreciates the significant increase in federal funding for education, the NEA takes a position of no confidence in the US Department of Education’s Race to the Top competitive grant policies and guidelines, the use of competitive grant policies and guidelines as a basis for the reauthorization of ESEA, and similar initiatives and policies that undermine public education.

Introduced by Phil Rumore, president of the Buffalo Teachers Federation, the motion divided delegates. Supporters argued the Race to the Top process “brutalizes” teachers and students and is at its heart anti-union. Opponents thought the vote of no confidence was too harsh and undermined affiliates who had participated in crafting the process in their states.

Efforts to amend and refer the measure were defeated on the floor, and it ultimately went to a vote unchanged, after about 40 minutes of debate. As you will be able to tell from the video I will post later (UPDATE: posted, see below), the voice vote was indeterminate, and the standing vote was very close, but NEA President Dennis Van Roekel declared it passed. A motion to have a roll call vote was also narrowly defeated.

I suspect this will get relatively big play in the press, but it was hardly a surprise. These rumblings have been heard since at least last September. As Rumore said during debate, “Just being at the table doesn’t get you anything.”

There is still a palpable reluctance to assign any of the blame to President Obama. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is the stand-in target for NEA’s ire, which I guess is part of a Cabinet secretary’s job description.


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